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Housing market briefings - green mortgages and retirement living

Pictured: Hopton's Almshouses in Bankside, Southwark, owned by United St. Saviour's Charity, built in 1752 with Rogers Stirk Harbour's award winning NEO Bankside behind.

This summer, Future Cities Forum is running discussion briefings around the drive towards green mortgages, home energy efficiency and retirement housing provision.

The accent on climate risk and protecting the environment has now taken a new turn this year, with EU banks focusing on the mortgage market. BNP Paribas, ING Bank and AXA are among those trialling a new 'green mortgage' which they say will help the consumer focus on energy efficiency.

The UK government has also now launched its Green Finance Strategy to increase investment in sustainable projects and infrastructure, while ensuring the UK remains an international leader in decarbonisation and meets its 2050 net zero carbon emissions target.

'The City must lead the way in securing a greener more resilient and sustainable future for the UK', stated City Minister, John Glen, adding that as the ‘world looks to shift to clean, resilient and sustainable economic growth, there is an opportunity to make London the go-to hub for green investment'.

A £5 million fund is being established called the ‘Green Home Finance Fund’ to help pilot products like green mortgages, which utilise green finance for home energy efficiency, and incentivises energy efficiency retrofit to make homes more environmentally sustainable.

Planning and integrating retirement communities

The market for private retirement homes and communities, of all types, is also growing and is set to increase by 50% by 2024 to £44 billion according to Knight Frank. However, the percentage of private purpose-built homes for the elderly is much smaller in the UK than in the USA or New Zealand.

Long term investors such as AXA Investment Management, Legal & General and Goldman Sachs, have all entered the market and acquired retirement village operators. The shadow of greater regulation looms, and questions remain as to how these communities can and should be integrated within cities and with neighbouring communities.

Community consultation, Dutch innovation and electric bikes featured in discussions at our March 2019 forum on new ideas for housing the elderly, multi-generational living and retro-fitting suburbia. This panel involved debate between planning consultancy WYG, Hertfordshire University and Matter Architecture, who complemented earlier contributions by Clarion Housing Group, Arup, MICA Architects, the London Borough of Southwark and Transport for London’s Head of Planning, Alex Williams.

Architect Lucy Block gave a vivid picture of how the traditional almshouse could be updated to accommodate multi-generational living. Her firm Matter Architecture views almshouses, owned and managed by small, local charities as filling a niche area in housing provision, and while unlikely to solve the housing crisis on their own, their unusual histories and constitutions mean that they are not subject to the same land pressures as many housing providers and demonstrate means by which the planning system could better support innovation and supply of affordable housing.

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